Straight, No Chaser: Culture Warriors During Silly Season

The ‘silly season’ of summer has become the time for political parties and their supporters to deploy inflammatory ideas knowing that they will be largely covered, as there is not much else besides the sport.

Right now, the commentary columns of serious Danish newspapers seem dominated by “culture warriors” determined to fight the sins of “revival” and identity politics.

As might be expected, many of the current debates have focused on universities and educational institutions. Authors of such polemics, such as Henrik Dahl of the Liberal Alliance and Morten Messerschmidt of Dansk Folkeparti, argue that academic freedom – and indeed fundamental freedom of expression in general – is compromised, and that the issues raised by “activists Are grossly exaggerated. .

They also suggest that research is halted or not undertaken at all for fear of stepping on the sensitive toes of “snowflakes”.

A Floydienne slide
To put it in perspective, the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis was the final spark that sparked a movement calling for justice for blacks and an end to institutionalized racism. However, it soon became clear that it wasn’t just about the United States. Black Lives Matter has spread around the world and has become an umbrella organization that has opened up the possibility of looking at colonialism and slavery in more general terms.

At the same time, the #MeToo movement was once again sweeping the world and it was clear feminists weren’t going to be fooled by the usual platitudes this time around. Measures were demanded and the delinquents unmasked. In a third part, LGBTQ + people engaged in lively discussions on gender roles. “Identity politics” has now entered the mainstream.

In November last year, a fury was sparked when a plaster copy of a bust of King Frederik V was thrown into the harbor by an anonymous group of students from the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. to protest against Denmark’s contribution to the slave trade. and colonialism. Was it iconoclasm, outright vandalism – or were the students right?

Statutory example
The event can certainly be seen against the backdrop of the withdrawal of statues of prominent Confederate generals in the United States, the battle to remove the statue of Cecil Rhodes from Oriel College, Oxford, and the tipping of the statue of Edward Colston, a prominent English slave owner, in Bristol Harbor.

It’s easy to see how “privileged white men” like Dahl and Messerschmidt might feel threatened by all of this; disturbing to them, they may even have to open up a little to new ideas and examine their own world view. On the other hand, maybe they can take comfort in the fact that much of it will fly away in time or stay in the halls of the academy.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the dominant narrative conveyed by the right was that universities, educational institutions, and the BBC were all hotbeds of Communist propaganda and brainwashing of the nation’s youth to become virulent Marxists. The same was also said in Denmark.

No red dawn
However, the 1979 British general election gave Margaret Thatcher an overwhelming majority of 43 seats and sparked an unprecedented 20 years of right-wing economic liberalism, Milton Friedman’s monetarism, the liquidation of nationalized industries, the emasculation of unions and a widening wealth gap between rich and poor that is worse than ever.

So despite what doom prophets and retired colonels have said about a Marxist state, it just did not happen. Likewise, people who discuss re-evaluations of history, shifting gender and social roles, and “identity politics” are also not going to bring down society.

In fact, it is a sign of a healthy society that these issues are examined and that we learn from the process. True liberalism embraces tolerance and celebrates diversity.

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